Donald Bentz

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Bentz, DDS, Donald Richard

Donald Richard Bentz, DDS, 86, of La Crosse, passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday, January 2, 2013.

Don was born February 20, 1926, in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., to August and Anne (Cuskelly) Bentz. He joined the Navy as a radioman in 1944 and served aboard a troop landing ship in the South Pacific until 1946. After returning from the Navy, he attended the Central Wisconsin Teacher's College in Steven's Point, Wis. It was there he met Lorraine Thatcher, and they married on August 27, 1949. Don graduated from Marquette University School of Dentistry in 1953, and then moved to La Crosse, where he enjoyed practicing dentistry until 1993. He had a keen interest in health and nutrition. Never one to sit still, he became a cranberry farmer after retiring from dentistry.

Don was the loving father of nine children and one of his greatest joys was to have his large family gathered together. He was an avid sportsman; he loved hunting, fishing, skiing and tennis. He treasured the many hunting seasons he spent with family and friends at his cabin in Finley, Wis. Don was especially fond of playing in National USTA father-daughter tennis tournaments with his daughter, Jane. They won the tournament four times and he was proud of being ranked number one in the nation in 2007. His children have wonderful memories of family ski trips, including driving the mountains of Colorado before interstate highways and of family vacations to Mexico.

Don and Lorraine traveled extensively in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Mexico. In the early 1990's, they began spending their winters in Palm Desert, Cal., where Don played tennis daily, tutored at a local school, and was involved in the local Catholic Church.

Don lived a full life and had many fond memories of time spent with his large extended family and cherished friends. He loved to tell jokes and never met a stranger who wasn't a victim of his latest repertoire. Underneath all the jokes was a kind, generous and loving soul.

Don is survived by his lovely wife, Lorraine; sisters, Margaret Helke of Wisconsin Rapids, and Katie (Leo) Nelligan of Santa Rosa, Cal.; his children, James (Candice) Bentz of Anacortes, Wash., Jane (Dave) Matelski, of La Crosse, Jeffrey (Cindy) Bentz of Nekoosa, Wis., Patty (Charles) Donahoo of Ooltewah, Tenn., Tom Bentz of Finley, Wis., Barbara (Adono) Pastores of Seattle, Wash., Dave (Lana) Bentz of La Crosse, Greg (Anne) Bentz of Galesville, and daughter-in-law, Patricia Glennon Bentz of Dayton, Ohio. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Julie (Andy) Westerlund, Audrey, Julia and Maria Bentz, Lauren, Molly and Anne Matelski, Ryan (Josie) Becker, Colton Bentz, Stephanie Donahoo and Andrew (Kendra) Donahoo, Santana and Maceo Pastores, Stephanie and Kara Evenson, Nicholas Bentz, and Sam Bentz; and his great grandchildren, Jack and Max Westerlund, and Landon and Ashlynn Becker; and many beloved nieces and nephews. Don was preceded in death by his brother, Gus; sisters, Alice and Mary; and son, John Bentz.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, January 15, at 11 a.m., at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 130 Losey Blvd. So., La Crosse. Rev. David Olson will officiate. Family and friends may call at the church on Tuesday from 10 a.m. until the time of service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Marquette University School of Dentistry or Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. The Schumacher-Kish Funeral Home of La Crosse is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be submitted at

We would like to thank hospice of Mayo Clinic in La Crosse and all those who had our Dad in their thoughts and prayers.


Published in Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune on Jan. 10, 2013
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